Peace: My Preview of 2013

Jan 14, 2013 by

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a review post of 2012, based on Rosetta Thurman’s excellent guide. Today, I’m looking forward with a preview of 2013, also with the help of her suggestions.

After thinking through these questions (a lot – it took me over a week to finish this post), I’ve decided that my guiding principle for 2013 is PEACE. Peace in mind, body and spirit. While my work and travel schedule shows no signs of lightening anytime soon, my internal world needs to lighten up quite a bit. I’m going to work on remaining focused but also taking it easy on myself in 2013. Happy New Year!


What I Want to Bring Into My Life in 2013

What do you deserve more of next year? What do you deserve less of next year?

I deserve fun and some adventure this year. My nose has been to the proverbial grindstone for a long time and that has led to a lot of sitting around on my butt when I have down time or visiting the same old places (i.e., lack of motivation to explore). This year, I want to expand my horizons just a bit and eat at new restaurants, see some shows and visit new places.

I deserve less stress this year. I deserve less self-imposed stress and less stress placed on me by others (whether intentionally or not). I don’t deserve it and I’m going to stop owning it.peace

What personal milestone(s) do you most want to reach in your relationships, health, family, finances, education and/or lifestyle?

I want our house to be ‘done’ – even though I’m not quite sure how to define that. I figure that it’s like Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography: I can’t define it, but I’ll know it when I see it. We’ve been painting, renovating, decorating, hanging pictures, etc. for so long that it feels like it will never be done. But it will. Oh yes, it will.

What professional accomplishments (at work or in your business) do you want to see for yourself next year?

I want to build and grow my career coaching business significantly this year. I want to work with more clients, do more speaking engagements and make more money. If you read this blog regularly, you won’t be surprised that I’ve already developed a plan to grow it and the next step is to implement that plan.

What do you want to learn in 2013?

I want to learn the best, most efficient ways to earn money through my side business; essentially, what is the most lucrative line of work I can do and still help the most people? Part of my business plan is to test various methods out to identify the top earners.

What do you want to cross off of your bucket list in 2013?

While I won’t quite be able to knock it off my bucket list in 2013, I’m already aiming to visit Europe in 2014 (which is a bucket list item). My husband and I have already starting thinking about general dates and locations and by the summer of 2014, we will have crossed it off our list!


What I Want My Life to Look Like in 2013

What part of your life do you want to pay more attention to in 2013?

My internal, emotional life. I want to pay more attention to what is happening internally and why. I seem to spend a lot of energy expressing, suppressing, thinking about, talking about and worrying about my own responses to things, but not necessarily in a productive way. This year, I want to spend time consciously interrogating my own emotions with the goal of learning how to move through them in a way that acknowledges them but doesn’t allow them to constantly dominate my thinking.

Who do you want to spend more time with in 2013?

My good friends, especially those whose time is more limited (largely because they have young kids). While I certainly have important time commitments, my time is still more flexible than those with young children. I want to spend more time with them in a way that is comfortable to them/for them.

Who do you want to spend less time with in 2013?

Toxic people who are so-called ‘friends’. I’ve already started the process of separating myself from these people, but in 2013 want to disengage entirely. I’m done wasting my time with people who aren’t fun and just bring me down.

Which activities, habits or behaviors, if any, do you want to stop doing in 2013 because they no longer serve you?

I want to stop talking about/gossiping about/complaining about people so much. While I won’t try to pretend that I’m going to stop completely, I want to continue to reduce the amount of time I spend being vocally negative. I started working on that in 2012 and I found that trying harder to be positive had a effect on my emotional state overall (in a good way). I want to keep up that work in 2013.

Which activities do you want to start and/or continue doing in 2013?

I want to schedule – and stick to the schedule – of working on my business regularly in 2013. I did this sporadically throughout 2012, but lots of other things got in the way. This year, I want to be realistic about my time, stay focused and use the time as effectively as possible to grow my business.

What will your ideal day look like next year?

I will wake up, work out, eat a healthy breakfast and head to my full-time job. Then I’ll work a highly productive 8 hour day and come home. Once I get home I’ll make/eat dinner with my husband and then either spend a couple of hours on my business or spend time with him. I’ll then go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep. I’m excited already!


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You can lead kickass meetings and trainings

Sep 13, 2012 by

I’ve ranted about crappy meetings and conference presentations in this space before, but I needed to come back to it in light of the somewhat ridiculous number of meetings, conferences and trainings I’ve been planning and attending lately.

Designing trainings and other adult learning experiences is one of my deepest passions and I spend a LOT of time thinking about how to make them interesting, fun and useful. The same came be said for meetings I lead (though to a slightly lesser extent – its hard to make most meetings fun, no matter how great you are at planning them).

Here are a few suggestions for making your next meeting or training as kickass as it can be:

  • Plan, plan, plan and be prepared – You’re shocked right? The Queen of Planning suggests you plan yet again? Why yes I do. Whether you’re giving a conference session or a training, you should spend AT LEAST double the amount of time the actual session takes planning for it. Along with a coworker, I’m giving a full two-day presentation in early October. Even though each of us have presented on similar topics before, we’ve already spent at least 10 hours prepping and we’ll spend at least 15 to 20 more before we’re done (all for a total of about 12 training hours). For regular meetings that I lead, I spend anywhere from 10 minutes to a few hours prepping for them – the prep includes following up on action items from the last meeting, developing an agenda and making sure any key documents are close at hand before we step into the meeting.
  • Decide on outcomes and goals – This fits into the ‘plan’ category above, but deserves its own separate mention. You should NEVER walk into a meeting, training or conference session without some idea of the goals and outcomes you want to come out with on the other end. It can be as simple as “people will feel they’ve learned something” and as complicated as developing a full workplan for a project you’re doing. Either way, you need to know what is coming out of the meeting and communicate it to others OR cancel the meeting before it even starts.
  • Customize and be Flexible – At this point, I have a few standard trainings that I’ve given several times. While I love designing new trainings, giving a tried and true presentation is so much easier and can be just as fun. The key is that you’ve got to make it relevant to the audience to which you’re speaking. Each training, presentation or meeting should be customized based on that audience and you should also be flexible in case of changes. One never knows what may come up: someone gets sick, a new person joins your meeting at the last moment, the projector won’t work, etc. If you’re prepared and know what your outcomes are, you can flex and bend with the changes.
  • Go with the Flow – This one is a bit more difficult to learn admittedly, but if you think about meetings or trainings you’ve sat through where you jarringly moved from one topic to another or the speaker didn’t explain how an example connects to the overall theme, you’ll know what bad flow means. Try to think of your training and meeting like you used to think about writing papers in college: you start out with a thesis statement, provide some evidence points and then conclude by reiterating your thesis. A meeting or training should be the same and it should make sense.

Now: go forth and kick ass in all of your meetings and trainings!


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The Quick and Dirty Guide to Standing Out in the Workplace

May 21, 2012 by

On Friday, May 18, I presented a session at the 2012 YNPNdc Annual Conference (hashtag = #ynpndc12) titled “The Quick and Dirty Guide to Standing Out in the Workplace.” My fellow colleagues from the YNPNdc Communications Committee live tweeted/blogged the session, as well as many others. The tweets from my session are below and you can find the full record of live blog posts on YNPNdc’s blog NETWORKdc.



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And…we’re back!

Apr 20, 2012 by

If you’ve been following my Tweet stream, you may know that I recently had some website issues. Apparently, my website theme got ‘corrupted’ somehow, which meant I couldn’t log in to change, edit or post anything for almost a week. After much searching, trying to read through incomprehensible ‘help’ pages and asking friends and strangers for help, I finally broke down and called Bluehost, my website hosting company, for help. And they were great! They figured out the issue and fixed it for me so I could get on with my website life.

Though it was a huge pain in my ass to deal with all of this, I decided to view it as an opportunity to change the theme and look of my website. Soon, I’ll have a new header/banner too and a new name for the site will be revealed. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few lessons I learned when my website crashed and burned:

  1. Good work is never doneThis is a lesson I’ve already learned a few times, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still valuable. A couple of years ago, I made the decision to create this website through WordPress and pay for hosting it at Bluehost rather than using an easier, free but less flexible blogging tool. It took lots of work to get it set up and that work just keeps right on.
  2. When they tell you to update it, update it – I had gotten a few notifications that my theme needed to be updated, but I didn’t pay attention. When I had updated it in the past, it had usually broken one or more of my plugins and I didn’t feel like dealing with it. Well instead, I had to deal with an even bigger problem. Next time, I will update it.
  3. Stop whining and ask for help – I tried and tried to figure out how to fix it on my own. I searched and searched through WordPress’ less-than-helpful ‘help’ pages (that’s another lesson: WordPress isn’t always that helpful) with the hopes of figuring out what was going on. I struggled to try and implement some of the solutions they provided – all to no avail. After nearly a week, I finally gave in and called Bluehost. 10 minutes later, it was fixed! I could have saved myself so much time and frustration if I had just done that in the first place. Lesson learned.

Thanks for sticking with me through a lot of site maintenance. More posts will be forthcoming soon!

Flickr photo courtesy of user viviandnguyen_
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Stop giving crappy presentations!

Aug 30, 2011 by

I’ve attended several conferences lately and frankly, I’m completely fed up with having to sit through horrible presentations that offer little to no value and are usually boring to boot. I just don’t understand! Conferences have been around for decades: how is it that people can not figure out how to give a decent presentation that imparts knowledge or provides a call to action (or both)???

After sitting through all of these crappy presentations, I’ve built up a good head of steam which I shall now share with you.*

Here are the most common offenses I’ve noticed lately that you should avoid at ALL COSTS if you’re scheduled to present anytime soon (and if you would like a guide about how to do better presentations, especially in the nonprofit context, I’ll direct you to what I consider the ‘bible’ on this topic, Andy Goodman’s “When Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes“):

  • A huge, unwieldy slidedeck – I know you’ve seen this person before, flipping past slide after slide during his/her presentation because its not relevant. Tell me exactly what the point is of putting together a 100 slide PowerPoint and then carting it around to every conference you speak it. If you answered “to make my life easier” then you are almost certainly one of the selfish people I’ve seen giving awful presentations. Sorry, but its just the truth. Yes, one of the big reasons for speaking at conferences, etc. is to get your message across, sell your product or get people to take action on your issue of choice. But you’re wrong if you think that is going to happen when you haven’t even bothered to make your presentation relevant.
  • Off the shelf presentations without any customization – This one leads directly from the previous bullet. The existing knowledge base, geographic representation, subsector, age, gender, etc. of your audience has everything to do with how you should build a presentation. If you aren’t asking the conference organizers these questions, you are losing an opportunity to not suck. You also need to know what your purpose is in presenting to these people. Is it purely informational? Then your facts need to be clear, concise and tell a story without overwhelming the audience with detail. Is the presentation supposed to encourage them to take action? Then it should (again) tell a story as well as offering compelling reasons and easy ways to take action.
  • Not knowing your own material – People are busy and I understand that. Unfortunately, that has led to a phenomenon of people asking other (usually ‘junior’) staff to create presentations for them. The speaker then arrives at the conference, takes a look at the slides while he/she is sitting on the stage waiting to present and proceeds to get up and blather on (I’ve actually seen this happen and when I asked, the person said that no, he had not seen the slides previous to that moment). Seriously? No one is such an amazing presenter that it obviates the need to look at one’s own slides before getting up to speak. Period.
  • Going way, way, way over time – I have to admit that this pet peeve is personal for me as a regular conference presenter as well as an audience member. I was invited to speak at a conference a few weeks ago with 3 other people (that should have been the first flag that something was wrong; 4 presenters is at least one too many for a good panel). The session was scheduled for 95 minutes and the 1st three presenters each spoke for 30 minutes. Yes, that’s right: once they got done there were 5 minutes left for my presentation and Q/A. So despite having prepared for a few hours (more on that below), I skipped my presentation in favor of questions. The lesson: your fellow presenters don’t deserve to get shafted and those in the audience don’t deserve to have their time for questions and interaction short-changed because you won’t shut up.
  • Overall lack of preparation – You know how I feel about preparation in general and for important things like job searching in particular. I consider presentations in any form to be one of those important things. As far as I’m concerned, you should spend at least an hour preparing for each 10 minutes that you’ll be presenting – more if you’ve never presented on the topic before or if you’re new to presenting in general. And that preparation should not all happen on the plane/train to the conference or the night before you’re scheduled to speak. Depending on the topic/situation, I try to have a very good draft done at least a week before the session so that I can let it sit for a few days before going back and looking at it again. Only then do I feel ready to get up and give a decent presentation.

While I can’t guarantee that you’ll be an amazing presenter if you avoid these things, I can guarantee that you won’t suck so badly that someone has to write a ranting blog post about it.

Have you seen other egregious crimes in the world of presenting, conferences, meetings, etc? Please share them in the comments!


Flickr image courtesy of user Zach Klein
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